Where Cruz, Rubio, and Paul Stand on the Unaccompanied-Minors Crisis

All are critical of President Obama, but in different ways.

NOGALES, AZ - JUNE 18: Boys wait in line to make a phone call as they are joined by hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children that are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center on June 18, 2014, in Nogales, Arizona. Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin-Pool/Getty Images)
National Journal
Michael Catalini
July 10, 2014, 1:33 p.m.

A trio of po­ten­tial Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates in the Sen­ate is re­buff­ing Pres­id­ent Obama over the in­flux of chil­dren from Cent­ral Amer­ica across the south­ern bor­der.

But even as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Ken­tucky, and Marco Ru­bio of Flor­ida blame Obama, there are dif­fer­ences among their cri­tiques.

Cruz took per­haps the bold­est swipes at the pres­id­ent and his re­quest for $3.7 bil­lion in emer­gency fund­ing to ad­dress the is­sue. Cruz was also the only one of the group to speak on the floor this week.

Paul re­mained mostly quiet, hav­ing pub­lished an op-ed dur­ing the In­de­pend­ence Day hol­i­day that cri­ti­cized the coun­try’s im­mig­ra­tion policy broadly but did not dir­ectly ad­dress the minors stream­ing across the bor­der. He’s also with­hold­ing com­ment on the pres­id­ent’s fund­ing re­quest un­til there is writ­ten le­gis­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to spokes­man Ser­gio Gor.

Ru­bio, who finds him­self in per­haps the most awk­ward po­s­i­tion be­cause he sup­por­ted the Sen­ate’s im­mig­ra­tion bill last year, de­fen­ded his po­s­i­tion while jab­bing at Obama.

Here’s a look at the where the sen­at­ors stand on the is­sue:

Cruz: “Of the pres­id­ent’s own mak­ing.”

Cruz took the pres­id­ent on dir­ectly, blam­ing him for the in­flux of chil­dren, which he said could top 90,000 by the end of the year.

“This is a hu­man­it­ari­an dis­aster, but it is a dis­aster of the pres­id­ent’s own mak­ing,” Cruz said Wed­nes­day. “It is a dis­aster that is a dir­ect con­sequence of Pres­id­ent Obama’s law­less­ness.”

He dis­missed the pres­id­ent’s $3.7 bil­lion re­quest and said it would not solve the prob­lem. He in­stead sug­ges­ted that “boots on the ground” would stem the tide of chil­dren cross­ing the bor­der.

“This is an HHS so­cial-ser­vices bill,” Cruz said of the pres­id­ent’s sup­ple­ment­al re­quest.

Cruz also com­pared the re­quest to the $800 bil­lion eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus bill in 2009, say­ing it was sold to the pub­lic as a jobs bill but that the so-called shovel-ready jobs did not ma­ter­i­al­ize as prom­ised. In this case, the ad­min­is­tra­tion claims the fund­ing re­quest is for bor­der se­cur­ity, yet much of the money goes to the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment, Cruz ar­gued.

Paul: “Beacon to all of Cent­ral Amer­ica.”

Echo­ing the lan­guage he used in an op-ed last week on Breit­bart.com, Paul told re­port­ers in Ken­tucky — without get­ting spe­cif­ic — that he backs some forms of for­give­ness but that he thinks the bor­der should be se­cure first.

“Now that’s be­come a beacon to all of Cent­ral Amer­ica be­cause we didn’t se­cure the bor­der,” he said, ac­cord­ing to the Lex­ing­ton Her­ald-Lead­er. “So if you don’t se­cure the bor­der and you of­fer these things of re­form and for­give­ness, many of which I’m for, but if you don’t se­cure the bor­der, then you get this hu­man­it­ari­an crisis and the whole world thinks they can come and no one’s stop­ping them.”

Ru­bio: “Take care of them as … hu­manely as pos­sible “¦ but they do need to be re­turned.”

Ru­bio de­fen­ded his vote on the im­mig­ra­tion bill by point­ing out that neither the le­gis­la­tion nor cur­rent law al­lows the chil­dren to stay in the coun­try. Like Cruz, he cri­ti­cized the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fund­ing re­quest and poin­ted out that the li­on’s share of it goes to­ward HHS, with too little go­ing to se­cure the bor­der.

“We need to ap­ply the law, we need to take care of them as “¦ hu­manely as pos­sible while they are here but they do need to be re­turned and re­united with their fam­il­ies in their home coun­try, be­cause that’s the law of the coun­try,” Ru­bio said in an in­ter­view with Hot Air. “If you don’t en­force the law you are cre­at­ing an in­cent­ive for people try­ing to come here.”

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